Sony's PlayStation Move motion control system has arrived. I've put the platform through its paces; you can see my review here. The short version: It feels nice in your hand and is more precise than Nintendo's aging Wii remote and nunchuk controllers; a clear step up the evolutionary ladder in motion control gaming.
But what about the software?
In this post I take a look at most of the Move games available at launch. Nothing too flabbergasting yet, but there is definitely some fun to be had for those who can't wait to begin playing with Sony's new toy.
This is the game included in Sony's PlayStation Move bundles, both the $100 motion controller-plus-PlayStation Eye package as well as the $400 PlayStation Move console bundle. Alternatively, you can buy it on its own for $40.
Composed of six mini-games-Bocce Ball, Disc Golf, Beach Volleyball, Archery, Table Tennis, and Gladiator Duel- Sports Champions is essentially PlayStation Move's answer to Nintendo's Wii Sports. However, the E10+ rating and the realistic violence featured in Gladiator Duel indicates that Sony isn't necessarily targeting little kids with its new platform (or at least not exclusively).
Sports Champions feels rather like a spruced-up tech demo. The Spartan graphics, though not entirely unappealing, are without personality, and the play modes are basically just linear series of repetitious matches.
However, it's also the best way to see what PlayStation Move has to offer. I've played more than a dozen sports-themed mini-game collections for the Wii, and in terms of precision control and sheer entertainment value, Sports Champions beats them all, hands down (with the exception of Nintendo's brilliantly accessible and just plain playable Wii Sports Resort).
I began by tossing some Frisbees and was shocked by how natural it felt. I could judge the height, distance, and flight path of my throws before the virtual disc even left my hand. Bocce Ball delivered similar results, allowing me to strategically throw low, rolling shots or high balls with lots of spin. Both activities feel much like their real-world counterparts.
However, the standout activities in this collection are Archery and Gladiator Duel. Both are fun enough with a single Move Controller, but add a second to the mix and they suddenly become extraordinarily realistic.
In Archery I would reach behind my back for an arrow, then bring my hands together to notch the arrow in the string. Then I pulled my hands apart, using my left to aim and my right to control tension and distance, before releasing the trigger to let loose the shot. I found the experience to be both intuitive and gratifying.
Gladiator Duel even more so. My left hand controlled a shield, my right hand wielded a sword, both with almost perfect one-to-one control (I once absentmindedly began a match by quickly shaking my controller and was surprised to see my onscreen avatar doing the same with his sword, as though impatient to begin the brawl). I was able to block incoming attacks by naturally moving my shield into position, then precisely swing or jab my weapon at small openings in my opponent's defence. Button-based controls for actions such as dodging and leaping back add depth to the experience, helping make this activity the most rewarding in the collection.
Sports Champions shows the PlayStation Move's potential, but it doesn't quite feel like a complete game. It suggests, however, that if a gifted studio were to concentrate on creating a full game based on one of its better activities-such as melee combat-that game could end up becoming the sort of hardware-moving title that PlayStation Move needs right now.
Designed for kids, EyePet ($40) lets players interact with a virtual, Monchichi-like creature on their living room floors.
Players begin by aiming the PlayStation Eye camera at the floor in front of their televisions. That's where the EyePet appears to run around-and in surprisingly convincing fashion (I could see its digital shadow on the rug).
Less a game than a simulation, the objective is simply to care for and play with pets. Kids wield a variety of objects that are mapped to the PlayStation Move motion controller-shower heads, baseball mitts, nets, and more-and use them to interact with their digital cratures.